Thousands of people visit this site and arrive at a specific post via a search engine without seeing the main page. Please click on the PrivateCollection logo at the top to go there. The site is maintained as a Tribute to Susan as a small part of her legacy. Nothing on the site is for sale. Questions are sometimes answered, time permitting. PrivateCollection is the Photo Blog for Susan Dods, a long time antique dealer and collector. The site features photographs and commentary on very special pieces of Chinese Jewelry. View ALL of the posts in the archive with our exclusive PictureBook format.     相片书

Chinese Kingfisher Set

My last post was about the beauty of Chinese enamels. For thousands of years Chinese artisans found another way to add colour to their metal ornaments without enameling. The art; tian-tsui (“dotting with kingfishers”) utilized the iridescent blue feathers of the Kingfisher as an inlay for ornaments ranging from large decorative screens to the small pieces of jewelry  featured here.


My collection focuses on late 19th and early 20th century pieces. Early pieces of Kingfisher jewelry use only the blue feathers… as seen in these photos the later pieces incorporate feathers of other vibrant colours…

The kingfisher was highly prized for its brilliant plumage… a small bird… slightly larger than a sparrow…  the demand for feathers almost brought these birds to extinction and by 1930 all the workshops producing this jewelry had closed.


… these pieces mix the blue with red, green and purple feathers … I’m not sure if this mix of colours was because of the scarcity of the feathers or a new artistic style.


Chinese artisans painstakingly glued small clippings of feathers to gold, silver or brass ornaments.   1 2Please.. never try to clean these pieces. They are quite delicate and fragile …very difficult to restore.

For more information on this fascinating art form see  "Kingfisher Blue: Treasures of an Ancient Chinese Art", Beverley Jackson, Ten Speed Press.

Visit PrivateCollection’s PictureBook to see additional photos.

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One Comment

  1. Kelvin Ho
    Posted June 26, 2013 at 3:02 am | Permalink

    Very interesting and information site.

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